In 2016, most companies require a mobile version of their website. As a result, responsive web design has become an extremely useful tool. The use of smartphones and other mobile devices has grown significantly and more users are viewing web pages on smaller-screen devices.
This type of web design provides a web page that re-sizes itself according to the type of device accessing it. In most cases, these devices can range from computer monitors to 5-inch smartphone screens.
The Purpose of Responsive Web Design
Responsive design provides flexibility to web pages that are accessed on varying sized devices. For example, when a web page is viewed on a laptop, the web page may display four columns. However, when the same page is viewed on a smaller device, the page may require the user to scroll horizontally to view all the columns. This is a process that some users find frustrating. Moreover, certain elements and columns may be distorted or hidden. This holds true for many tablets that offer portrait orientations and landscape views.
Most smartphone screens are tiny and viewing web pages can be challenging. When accessing web pages on smartphones, larger images may alter the layout. In some cases, websites can load slowly when the page incorporates heavy graphics. However, responsive web design helps to solve these issues. Responsive web design allows the page to adjust automatically when viewed on different devices. The content on the page remains readable as well as easy to navigate. For instance, on a tablet the page may display four columns but on a smartphone the content might appear as two columns. On some pages, the user may have the option to swipe over to access other columns. Responsive web design automatically re-sizes images instead of cutting off portions or distorting the layout.
Issues Related To Responsive Web Design
Downloading and Graphics
Currently, there is an issue with download speeds and graphics. When using smartphones and tablets, it is a good idea for the device to display fewer graphics. Using the same amount of graphics for a mobile device as a computer can cause the web page to take longer when downloading. Responsive web design helps to prevent this issue. In some cases, large ads and images are re-sized to smaller ones.
Touch vs. Mouse
When designing for smartphones and tablets, there is the issue of touch vs. mouse. When using desktop computers and laptops, the user typically uses a mouse to select items and navigate the page. However, on a tablet or smartphone, the user has the ability to touch the screen and navigate the page. For the most part, selecting items with a mouse is much easier than touching the item to select it. A small spot on the screen can be difficult to touch. For that reason, web designers must consider the “touch” aspect when designing.
There are many different devices that access web pages. A responsive design that offers flexibility to these devices has countless benefits. It is important to note that creating apps and versions for every type of device and operating platform would be a daunting task. Responsive web design helps to eliminate the need to create various apps and versions.
Who Needs Responsive Web Design
People that use mobile devices need responsive web design. A recent Pew study reported that more than 40% of adults use a smartphone, and over 30% have a tablet. The report also suggests that this number will continue to increase over the next decade. These users will continue to need flexible web pages that adjust to various devices.
Small businesses that have web pages should consider incorporating a responsive design. Business owners that understand website traffic realize that there are a growing number of visitors accessing the website with mobile devices. In order to retain these visitors, the web page needs to respond differently to various devices.
How Does It Work
The design is responsive because it uses fluid grids. This allows elements on the page to re-size by interpreting proportion, rather than generating pixels. Developments in responsive web design are attempting to keep up with the endless amount of devices that have varying resolutions and orientations. For most websites, offering a different version of the website for every resolution would be nearly impossible. Responsive web design offers an approach that accurately responds to the user’s device and action. The flexible design is based on orientation and screen size. Responsive design incorporates a combination of flexible layouts, columns, and images. As a user switches from laptop to smartphone, the web page automatically adjusts resolution, functionality, and image size. Simply put, the website responds to specific user preferences.